From dancing in her living room as a toddler to taking weekly classes, Kayla Babicki has always devoted herself to dance. But the 23-year-old rediscovered a love for teaching adults here at Philly Dance Fitness, where she’s led ballet, jazz, lyrical, barre and even tap classes. Read on to learn more about this longtime instructor and what her Contemporary students are cooking up for the upcoming Philadelphia Dance Day festival this July.
Philly Dance Fitness: How did you get into dancing?
Kayla: I’ve been dancing for as long as I can remember. I would blast “The Nutcracker” from the VCR in our living room and that’s when my mom said, “OK, it’s time to take this energy elsewhere!” My mom then signed me up for dance classes, when I was about 3 years old. I decided in the third grade that I wanted to get into dancing professionally.
What do you do when you aren’t dancing?
Well, I’m actually always dancing! I teach preschoolers all the way up to adults, including training pre-professional teenagers. I spend a lot of time creating and setting new choreography on the pre-professional students, even traveling with them to competitions. And, if I’m not teaching, then I’m usually taking classes myself.
You’re directing a Contemporary performance piece for the upcoming 10th annual Philadelphia Dance Day. How long have you been involved in this nonprofit festival?
At least three years. I taught a workshop at Dance Day in 2016, not long after I first started working at Philly Dance Fitness. I choreographed routines for the evening showcase the following three years.
Do you have any advice for those who’d like to get involved in Philly Dance Fitness or Dance Day?
Just try it! When I ask new students in my class if they’ve danced before and they say no, I’m always so shocked because they blend in like naturals. Philly Dance Fitness is a great community of people that have either previously danced and put it away or have always wanted to dance but never tried. I know it’s scary to step out of your comfort zone, but it’s always so worth it, and everyone is so welcoming! You’re only going to get better, so just try it.
Aside from Dance Day, do you have any other fun plans this summer?
I’m teaching summer camps, so that will definitely be interesting. Also, I’m going to Maine for two weeks with my boyfriend. We’re going on a two week hiking journey to Canada. Sadly, this will be my last few months at Philly Dance Fitness because I’m moving in August.
Anything else you want to share?
Just that I’m so incredibly thankful to Deb and Bev for inspiring me to get back into dancing and leading me to teach dance. I wouldn’t be where I am without them. I studied journalism at Temple University because I thought I needed a career path other than dance, but teaching at Philly Dance Fitness and other studios reminded me that this is what I’m meant to do. I’m really going to miss my Philly Dance Fitness family!
Kayla will continue teaching weekly classes through the end of August, so come dance with her while you still can! Find her teaching Barre and Contemporary classes on Wednesday nights. You can also join her for a FREE Contemporary workshop at Dance Day on July 27 or help cheer on her students at the evening showcase at Plays & Players Theater. Click here for more details about the festival schedule and performances.
Interview by multimedia intern Jess Atwell, edited for brevity and clarity